Ok, kind of ironic since my last (very recent) post talked about the suicidal riders on the street, and here, we went to dinner via…bicycle! Minh and Phung twisted our arms and coaxed us into riding bikes to dinner. They had enough for everyone and Minh insisted “it’s fun!”. Ben and I were skeptic.
But actucally, it was… I was still terrified for my life, but I guess there’s a slight system to the madness. Cars and trucks on the left, cyclists on the right. Watch where you’re going in the front and sort of assume your rear is ok. Crossing the street and turning is terrifying, but you sort of just do the same as walking: slowly cross, people will eventually go around you. Just don’t pick a fight with a bus or truck; they could care less.
Then, on the way back, we had one too many so I rode on the back with Phung. I can’t remember the last time I sat on the back of a bike, feet on the pegs. I fondly remember the incident of Phung and her bike at Ba’s house. I sort of just hid my face in Phung’s back. It was a sight to see; we even got comments from the neighboring, elbow touching motorists.
So, we did it. It still seems like a bit of luck to me, but I can see how it works and how it’s quicker than taxi (bikes are manuverable). Still, a bit of too much exhaust for my taste.
We woke up early today and went by ourselves to get some banh cuon. Ben impressed the manager with his bit of Vietnamese (he know how much to pay and said “cam on” (thank you)). We passed through the park where all the early birds were working out, in all sorts of ways. People walking the 300m lap around the park, ballroom dancing, the jungle gym becoming a real gym, tai chi, hoola hooping — really anything you could imagine. My favorite of course is the traditional grandma stomach patting.
We hung out with Phung and Kimmy all day, which of course involved a lot of eating. But we even managed to drag Kimmy into the Reunification Palace, which turned out to be very interesting. It’s where all the presidents and South Vietnamese officials met to discuss all things, and most importantly, plan and fight the war. Except, on April 30, 1975, when the North attacked the building (the tanks are sitting outside on display), the South Vietnamese president (Big Minh) surrendered, and the building became standstill. A very eerie feeling walking around thinking the last time people were here, they were fleeing. The rooms are very grand, ornate, and it’s a huge place. The basement was the most spooky: a bunker where all the real war planning stuff happened.
Next we hit up Cho Ben Thanh, the market. And I bargained! I doubt it was successful, but if it wasn’t, things were still cheap. Those women are good at it, and in the end, I just felt like buying from the people who were nice to me. It was a bit of sensory overload, with tons and tons stuff packed into one block. It’s always hard for me to buy the first time around, so I definitely want to go back.
Ok, that’s all for now. Trying to write a lot as I have a feeling it’ll be harder when we move up North. Don’t forget to check flickr (www.flickr.com/nhanh). And thank you everyone for all the comments! I like knowing someone over there (meaning Tuti) is reading this 🙂